Brightly colored plastic sculptures of boxer dogs, incongruously wearing human shoes and backpack water bottles, have added a contemporary splash of color to the classic architecture of the landmark Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Other creatures done in the same style decorate the hotel property as well, and are part of an unusual exhibit that has been attracting attention.
Danielle Finnegan, the Biltmore’s director of public relations, took time to explain the reason for the collection’s presence at the hotel.
“At the hotel, we feel that it’s a perfect backdrop to host art from different artists,” Finnegan said. “Miami, in the last 12 years, has become somewhat of a hub in the art world with Art Basel and other art exhibits, and Wynwood Gallery. We felt that this would be a perfect location to display art.”
The hotel, built in 1926 and styled after Spain’s Giralda Tower, is a national historic landmark that has hosted many celebrities over the years and also once served as a VA hospital before being fully renovated and refurbished.
The current art exhibit has ties to Europe.
“We have been working with the Galleria Ca’ d’Oro,” Finnegan said. “One of the next exhibits is also going to be from that gallery. We’ve had many different artists interested in participating in the program and we plan on continuing it, ongoing, and the art will rotate throughout the year.”
The art is the work of members of the Cracking Art Group, based in Europe, that has been exhibited worldwide. The dogs on the front lawn were created by William Sweetlove, born in Oostende, Belgium in 1949. Though they have a whimsical look, there is a serious message behind their design according to Galleria Ca’ d’Oro owner Gloria Porcella, who has galleries in both Wynwood and in Rome, Italy.
“Sweetlove’s work is a commentary on the environment’s destruction by humans,” Porcella said. “His animals are not just sweet and playful, they carry a stronger message. Animals are the first ones to suffer, therefore they all need to carry their own supplies in order to survive.”
Porcella explained that the six European artists of the Cracking Art Group all create environmentally friendly art made with recyclable plastic. Displayed at Biltmore are also two bronze works by the wellknown sculptor Alba Gonzales, inside the lobby.
“The interesting thing about exhibiting at the historical Biltmore Hotel is not only the great chance to be in one of the most prestigious locations in Miami, but also the fact that the hotel space lends itself to our contemporary sculptures which harmoniously coexist both indoors and outdoors,” Porcella added.
Porcellasaid she had just received calls from tour bus operators requesting information about the sculptures since so many of the bus passengers had been asking about them. Her gallery also was responsible previously for bringing the popular giant snail sculptures to Art Basel in Miami Beach and the City of Coral Gables.
For information on other gallery exhibits visit ca-doro.com/miami/home/.
The Biltmore Hotel also is home for many special events, GableStage theatrical plays and the Biltmore Golf Course. For information visit www.biltmorehotel.com/.